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I Get Around
The holo in front of him was filled with pages and pages of thumbnails, all dutifully organized into categories. Alone in his office he smiled at the display, filled with happiness at what he saw. The machine learning AI was quick and had been able to organize the data rapidly despite the complexity of the submissions.

Row upon row of weaves sat before him, small descriptions underneath to indicate either what it did or what it was intended to do. Successes and promising lines of development; abandoned or failed experiments. Other users, those who were not admin level, saw only a subset of this. Open Source had revolutionized software development. Wikis had changed the way content was generated, harmonized and maintained. It was a relatively simple decision to combine the two for this.

When looked at longitudinally, it was a simple fact of history. Knowledge and technology exploded when collaboration was possible. Whether it was the universal common language of the ancient world, koine Greek and Roman roads or Father Marin Mersenne, "the post-box of Europe" of the 1600's who had connected scores of renaissance men and polymaths, sharing their research, collaboration led to rapid developments in science and technology. It was a wave that built up very quickly, as anyone could see when comparing life in the 1850s to life just a 100 years later. And that didn't begin to touch on the next 100 years, where computers and the internet led to advances not even dreamed of.

Just as neurons- single cells with no intent, carrying out basic functions based on its chemistry further based on the mathematical laws of physics- together became a consciousness of far more complexity, so too individuals working together constituted, in many ways, a super being of emergent intelligence. This was true for corporations or nations, as well as religions and communities.

So why not a channeler community? All of them sharing and researching and experimenting. Collaborating, modifying and experimenting. Some of the Rods of Dominion used his app. Sanjay had been happy to share. Others couldn't help but show off and the number of users had grown dramatically.

It surprised him at the types of weaves people were drawn to. Simple things, for many. Fire. Air. Combinations of earth. But then there those like Ilesha Fisher who were trying to use the power to work with metals, studying their effect as well as application in machinery. She was at the forefront, but her work was being looked at by other power users who also worked in metallurgy. Despite the difference in power, male and female, they could talk shop and brain storm.

Some of the Rods were using weaves developed in their military training. It was a useful tool for newer recruits, to demonstrate, so they could practice their formation. What was interesting was how surgical some of the weaves became. Some of that was his app, combining like Tau algebra terms in the same manner as Karnaugh Maps in digital logic. But some were...stylistic, was the best term he could come up with. There was an art to this. It was an interesting discovery and one he needed to think on. It was something he noticed in chip design as well. The laws were immutable. But there was still room for personality. He wondered if that could affect efficiency.

Those weaves were not available to the general users, though. Even the Rods or other users who developed weaves that were intricate, dangerous- and most of all, potentially useful to him- were segregated into small groups, though they didn't know this. While collaboration was fine and good, ultimately this had a purpose. All of it was to funnel through him. All of it was for him. His.

He felt an itch. Some of these he had played with. Only in a limited way, of course. He had not been hunting in a long time. Strangely, Malik seemed somewhat satiated at the moment. The intrigue, perhaps, of his position. The game. But the hunger was still there.

A hunt could be good. He'd have to use the disguising weave he'd learned from Oakland. His face, while not very well known, was still identifiable, both to those who might happen to recognize him, and- more importantly- facial recognition software.

Malik seemed to stir at the consideration, a coiled snake lifting its head lazily, a dragon, one eye opening in interest.

The weaves before him beckoned, asking to be played with.
Idly, he scrolled through the wiki, reading descriptions of the submissions. Some were bare bones. "Makes music"; "Creates balls of different colors." The maddening ones were like that but not simple. "Mix metal into water." He studied the weave for that one, unable to understand what it was supposed to do. Melt metal? That was just fire. The maddening part was it was in the female power so he couldn't even try it out. He could have someone else do it, he knew. But he was aware of the danger. Something had to be done about that. A way to test these safely. The simplest was to contact the woman and ask her what the hell she meant by "mix metal into water." The stereotype about artists seemed to hold true. Still, it was data.

Some were methodical note takers and their entries read like a diary. Those were a joy to read. They approached it like an experiment, logged failures and successes, their hopes, what inspired them, and so on. He subscribed to those people, knowing that even if it was unusable to him, even if it itself was not something that interested him- making flower petals grow into various shapes? He had a hard time figuring out how practical that was- the process itself was illuminating and taught him much.

One in particular kept pulling at him. A super heated column of air and earth, their temperatures so high that electrons separated from their atoms, creating the fourth state of matter, plasma. It was an interesting concept. Keeping it stable had proved to be difficult. Like lightning it tended to want to dissipate quickly. And it was...squirmy, was the best word. Not something he could control. He wasn't sure its purpose but he did like the way it moved and shifted colors hypnotically, rippling from one to the next like it was breathing. He wished he could figure out how to bind it, contain it in a specific form.

Another was playing with the 5th flavor of the power, the one that seemed to have no analog to the physical world. It was...ethereal. And yet it was also the one that seemed to warp the others, how they responded to matter interaction. It had played a key role in his creation of tau gates. It came up quite often in weaves that worked with living entities, healing and influence and the like. As if it was living itself, responding to will. It was alien in so many ways. And yet because of that, he hungered to understand it.

These two kept drawing all the "free" time he had- which was not much. It tickled the back of his mind, though he wasn't sure why.

He looked up at someone at his door and sighed, clearing the holo. Another meeting. It seemed he spent most days in meetings. Which meant he spent at least an hour each day running or boxing or working out just to get out of his head. To turn it off.

Locking his computer, he stood, put on his jacket and left his office.
Marcus found it hard to sleep that night. It sometimes happened, his mind unable to quiet from the day's concerns. Meetings were a necessary part of this job, but they ate up massive chunks of his day. For every one hour devoted to something that interested him, there were eight that went to administration: law makers, lawyers, project managers, department heads. A new Consulate had come into existence almost over night and organizing it was a herculean task.

And while beaurocrats knew their function, he demanded its structure would make it clear that he was at its head. That no part of it would be hidden from him. Of course, he knew he could not do everything. Delegation was necessary. But he needed to at least know what each was involved in. Practice, for when the time came. He didn't imagine it would any easier once he took over the Custody.

After an hour of unsuccessful attempts, he sat up in his bed and flipped on the television. He was bored. Nothing caught his interest. He scrolled through things to stream. He needed something mindless, something he'd seen before. A treadmill for his brain.

He stopped and smiled. There. The stirring opening music took him back. One arm behind his head, he watched for a bit, pieces of dialog coming to him a second before they were spoken. His eyes closed, but he was still listening. His breathing relaxed and he settled back into his pillow, switching the screen off but leaving the sound on.

He drifted, pieces of what he heard making its way into his head, his waking dream, warping it. He stood there, cool metal in his hand, solid and natural. His fingers caressed the buttons, the small dials that adjusted the length and intensity.

He pressed and a purple blade extended, the comforting vibration and tell tale shooosh accelerating his heart beat. He felt the Force flow through him into the blade, the two of them one, it an extension of his will.

And he smiled, as the image faded, his mind coming closer to the surface. He knew what he wanted to do. To make. He was excited at the thought.

Now he could sleep, content with his plans.
The tick of the mechanical clock mingled with the noises from the streets down below. The balcony door was open, though a security screen kept his apartment safe from ingress. The noise barely punctured his focus. The cylinder before him was split down the middle and hollowed out. Iron, but modified as the bearing had been, so that it was indestructible. The 3-d model he had designed had been sent to a metal worker and had been used to cast both sides, mirror images. Small divots with holes would allow tiny screws to hold the thing together. Before he had made the change he had carefully made sure it all fit together tightly.

The interiors weren't smooth. Rather they contained small slots for the matrix to latch into place. He'd ordered three, just in case. But the saying was measure thrice, cut once. Ordering more wouldn't be a problem. But he had no desire to wait.

Satisfied it had all fit together, he had woven spirit and earth, fire and air, in the pattern he had discovered, creating power "holes" in the iron. He couldn't help but smile. It was the same principle as adding trivalent impurities to silicon, called 'doping'. Those impurities created a P-type silicon semiconductor with positively charged "holes" desperate for negatively charged electrons to fill them. It was how transistors were made. Funny how the principle seemed to hold. In this case, the iron absorbed the power into its lattice. Early experiments seemed to indicated that the more force or energy directed at power-doped metal, the more of the power it absorbed to repel it.

Ilesha Fisher was working on something similar, though using the female half of the power. She saw the mechanical implications of this. Parts that did not break down were only the beginning. Others were working in related fields.

For him, it was enough that it worked. Because what he had planned would mean that a tremendous amount of heat energy was going to be housed by the object. Plasma, matter whose temperature reached the point that the electrons were stripped away from their nuclei leaving only positively charged ions of super heated gas.

He hadn't yet solved the problem of the "goopiness" of the plasma. It lost all cohesive structure at that point. He was playing around with various ways to 'encase' it. Air seemed a good potential though the thermal energy from the plasma super heated it to the point of danger. Getting too close- and you didn't have to be that close!- was a good way to get burned. He needed a buffer to hold the shape but keep from getting hot itself.

And so he pored over his Tau Wiki. searching for inspiration.

The problem was between his teeth. He would keep at it.
He was frustrated. It felt like everything he tried got too hot. Air? The surrounding got so super-heated that the blade melted things before it even touched. Earth? That became molten, droplets burning nice little impressions in his floor. His power doped metal would work, but completely defeated the purpose of what he was creating. He wanted an extendable energy blade. Water? Absently, he touched a nasty steam burn on his wrist. He was glad he had been able to dissipate the buildup quickly before there had been a serious explosion. He understood the dangers the early steam engine developers had worked under first hand, now.

But that had led him to try their techniques to create jackets with water cooled air. From there, a sheath of razor sharp air compressing the plasma, a few molecules thick vacuum, and then another sheath. Basically a blade thermos. It worked- sort of. The problem was keeping that distance constant at all times, the two weaves perfectly in sync with each other despite movement of the whole thing. It took work. A lot of work. And while he knew that once he had it 'automated', created using tau circuits, he'd not have to give it much attention, he couldn't help but feel he was on the wrong track.

That left spirit. The most malleable of the threads of the power. The one that had given him the secret in the first place. He kept coming back to it.

He looked at the clock, shaking his head. Damn! Another meeting.

Marcus' mind wandered during the presentation. He knew he should focus. Elouera Galloway, formally from Bykov's Consulate on Media Affairs, had joined his team. Her work as Youth Religion Outreach Liason had been a stepping stone to something far larger and farther reaching- even more than the media and cultural revamping that was part of Media and Propaganda's long term solution to remake DV into a peaceful region once and for all.

People who found they could channel or- as his Consulate was now a funnel for all inquiries and admissions of what had been termed supernatural abilities- who could talk to wolves or see the future or take injuries in dreams or smell violence or a host of other things they were only just getting glimpses into, well, they felt lost. Adrift. Unsure of their place in the universe.

It was a fundamental aspect of human intelligence, the seeking of patterns. Though it might seem abstract, in fact it cut to the very core of what mattered most. Certainly, it was expressed practically in things like mathematics and its expression through science and engineering. But language, history and sociology also were rooted in them.

The arts, music in particular, were based on that foundation, the concept of harmony and melody and rhythm, point and counter point.

Even more basic was the human hunger for stories- patterns of events, fiction or otherwise, strung together in such a way to give meaning and causality to what otherwise was a universe of randomness and indifference.

Literature, movies, and television all fed this deep hunger. Going back further, there were national and tribal histories and fables, legends and myths; all that defined tribe and nation, social and cultural groups.

And at its deepest, religion, the stories of how humanity related to the universe itself. God. Even those who eschewed myth in favor of verifiable fact hungered for and found meaning in stories- in the communities they bound together- that made them larger than just themselves. If nothing else, the story of just being for a single moment in time and space as a specific and unique confluence of energy and matter that had never existed and would never exist again was a powerful definition of self.

And so Elouera and her team were working on understanding those who came to them, their own stories and truth, and figuring how to bring them together. It was part of Marcus' mandate. The Consulate would need to be the focal point for this newly discovered aspect of life.

Important. But she had it well in hand. And his mind kept returning to the problem. A sheath for the plasma. Some sort of container. Every combination of the four material threads simply grew too hot. The environment around the blade needed to be normal up to the actual plasma itself, for what he envisioned.

Eloura's voice crept into his thoughts.. "...most commonly found among this specific subset of interviewees was a sense of unsurety. A universe that made sense to them- that had structure they felt safe with- had disappeared." He glanced down at the pad to see the agenda and did the rough estimate. Ah yes, a discussion on people from various ingroups. She was talking about those who grew up in high control groups, separatists or high concept belief structures where an overarching world view was presented. Lines were clearly drawn in their minds, players identified and the stakes made cosmic.

"That structure permeates the person's belief system, becomes something they find comfort in. When the belief structure breaks and the person is 'freed', it is not comforting. It is in fact terrifying. They have been institutionalized, desperately seeking a structure to latch on to..."

He was familiar and drifted again. People from those backgrounds often found themselves easy prey to other control groups or conspiracy theories. It fed that hunger that...what was the word she used? Permeated their mind.

What came to his mind was the way he had doped his metal with spirit, permeating it with "holes", open spaces, that drew the power in. That strengthened the metal to the point that it was indestructible.

He sat up straight in realization and many eyes turned briefly to him before he waved them on. His heart pounded in excitement as he pulled the app up on his tablet in 2d mode and did some back of the envelope calculations.

Was it that simple? A responsive doping? He looked at his watch, anxious for this meeting to end.
Sweat beaded his forehead. It had been a long night. His day mercifully ended, he'd skipped dinner and the gym, walked past people who wanted to flag him down to bend his ear or make a request with only the barest of acknowledgement, and went to his apartments. His study  bore the signs of his experiments. His brushed steel workbench was scarred with burn marks and melted flecks of various metals. Not that he wasn't organized during most of his experiments. But this one had consumed him.

The plasma had formed but had no real shape to it, no internal structure. After all, it had lost all its electrons and was a collection of ions. He was using iron as the element, as pure as he could find it. That made things so much easier. An alloy increased the amount of molecular complexity and he was feeling his way at this point. He kept looking back at his tau equations for the doped metals that had let him create the bearings and then the tau gates. They were not identical, of course. The fractal shape of the spirit thread, its negative line integral describing latices of "holes" were unique to each type of gate he'd been making, which power element it would pull in.

They were progressive steps up from the bearing, which drew in the power unfiltered, to those that pulled unique flavors of power. There was a pattern there, one that he'd finally hit upon using Fourier's discovery- a complex wave, or thread, being the sum of many much simpler ones. Finding the Fourier coefficients had been the hard part, but approaching it from the angle of vector analysis, using the dot-product of the collection of the vectors that described his wave, had yielded the results. It had been discovered 200 hundred years ago that they both were two different ways of describing the exact same thing.

Between the calculations and adjustments, he began to see results. The plasma "blob" extended into something more rigid. Further refinement gave it a cleaner shape until it held its own as a rod a little more than a meter long. Now came the hard part. He had a simple cylindrical shape and wanted something finer and more blade like, especially at the edges- almost infinitely thin, though as a sabre, not an épée or foil. He increased the number of simpler waves into his calculations and adjusted the lattice of spirit accordingly, and the blade took shape.

It was past 2am when he was finished. He shut the lights off and beheld the purple plasma that burst to life from his hand. The weave was complex to maintain but still he moved it about, lavender and plum lights glinting off walls and shiny surfaces. His heart raced as he looked at what he had wrought.

His weave complete, tau equations saved safely in his private files in the cloud, he let the weave go and the purple light went out. He had another long day tomorrow. As he readied for bed, his eyes dropped to the metal housing he had ordered to hold the cylinder made to hold the matrix. A saber grip. It had personality with its angles and finger holds. He'd had an artist add some flourish to it, a hint of Sith symbology.

Tomorrow he would build the matrix and align the gates in the housing and set it in the grip. He could almost imagine pressing the button and seeing his blade spring to life.

Darth Malik would have a lightsaber.
Marcus channelled and the last of the grain like tau-gates floated and pierced the matrix, settling into the position indicated in the model displayed on the holo. He ran a quick scan to make sure everything was spaced within tolerances before channeling again solidifying the mass. He turned the now solid piece in his hand, a hexagonal cylinder of purple polymer, the large collection of grain sized tau-gates arranged in what might appear to be random order. And yet there was nothing random about it at all. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

He did a quick test, touching the button embedded in the matrix with a brief thread of power- and with his thumb for the tactile feel of it- and the purple blade came to life. The tell-tale hum wasn't there, of course. It would be something to explore for later. That snap-hiss was as much of the experience as the laser sword itself. The touch was only momentary, the power required minimal. The tau-gates did the rest and maintained the blade until another touch of power hit the button again.

Satisfied, he sleeved the matrix inside the metal housing and then that went into the Sith hilt, the purple crystal matrix visible through the housing. Sealing everything up, he held it in his hand, feeling the weight of the metal grip, the play of it against his fingers.


With a flourish, he channeled and touched the button.

His lightsaber sprang to life.

A wide grin split his face, the glow alight in his dark eyes. He couldn't help but wave it around in mock battle, a kid again. With a slash, he cut through a corner of his steel workbench surface and the clang of the piece hit the tile floor, edges angry orange-red and black. There had been no resistance whatsoever.

Darth Malik spent the next hour flipping it on and off, marveling at what he'd wrought.

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